U.S. Department of Agriculture:

Interim Report on Ways to Enhance Management

RCED-90-19: Published: Oct 26, 1989. Publicly Released: Oct 26, 1989.

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GAO assessed the Department of Agriculture's (USDA) management and potential organizational improvements.

GAO found that: (1) many major USDA agencies and programs are very mature and have developed traditions, views, and constituencies independent of USDA; (2) this organizational structure hampers USDA in its efforts to perform its mission, and strong ties between the agencies, Congress, and constituent groups have kept USDA from adjusting to changes in the agricultural environment; (3) USDA struggles to deal with cross-cutting issues requiring coordination between its agencies, other federal agencies, and outside groups; and (4) USDA suffers from basic weaknesses in its human resource, information resource, management information, and financial management systems.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: USDA is actively taking action to restructure and streamline the Department, as required by the October 1994 Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act. In addition, recent legislation may be helpful in guiding federal agencies in strategic planning and performance measurement of agency goals and objectives. The Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) establishes a systematic approach for all federal departments to set and carry out strategic goals and objectives and measure and report achievements toward meeting those goals. USDA is developing its plans for implementing GPRA, including undertaking pilot projects to test and demonstrate annual performance plans, reports, and managerial accountability and flexibility. As of September 1994, USDA pilot agencies include the Soil Conservation Service, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Farmers Home Administration, the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, the Office of Civil Rights, and the Office of Communications.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Agriculture should adopt and implement a management agenda that: (1) clearly articulates management goals for the department; (2) establishes specific short- and long-term strategies, priorities, and actions to achieve these goals; (3) establishes target dates; and (4) institutes evaluation systems for monitoring progress toward these goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Agriculture


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